This recipe for Sweet Baby Leek Carbonara is inspired by Jamie Oliver. Although his recipe called for 2 large leeks, I had skinny leeks in the garden that hadn’t managed to fatten up enough by the time I wanted to prepared the veggie garden to plant new things. So I decided to call them Sweet Baby Leeks (as though it was intentional to use them when they were small) and made them the hero of the dish!
1 big handful baby leeks (or 2 large leeks)
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 knob unsalted butter
300g dried spaghetti
50g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
1 large egg
Trim, wash and finely slice the leeks. Peel and finely slice the garlic and pick the thyme leaves, then place in a large casserole pan on a medium heat with the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil. Once sizzling, stir in the leeks and 400ml of water, then cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 40 minutes, or until sweet and soft, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
When the leeks are almost done, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water. Toss the drained pasta into the leek pan, then remove from the heat and wait 2 minutes for the pan to cool slightly while you finely grate the cheese and beat it with the egg (if the pan’s too hot, it’ll scramble; get it right and it’ll be smooth and silky).
Loosen the egg mixture with a splash of reserved cooking water, then pour over the pasta, tossing vigorously (the egg will cook in the residual heat). Season with salt and pepper if required. Adjust the consistency with extra cooking water, if needed, and finish with a little extra parmesan cheese.